In the tantric system you must have seen the geometrical diagrams of upright and inverted triangles, quadrangles and many other geometrical figures known as yantras. How are these geometrical figures associated with human beings?
Sri Yantra is nothing but a combination or a confluence of triangles. It is supposed to be one of the most powerful yantras, symbolizing the process of creation, the manifestation of energy from the dormant potential state. Even as a plant sprouts out of a seed, in the same manner the whole manifestation of the macrocosmic universe has come out from a state of unmanifested reality. We call it avitha, unmanifested. What you perceive now in the form of time, space, objectivity, past, present and future is manifested reality.
Sri Yantra is supposed to represent this process of manifestation where life, names, forms, time, all of space and the different dimensions have been evolving. This yantra has been taken as a symbol of our unconscious mind. It is difficult to explain the exact nature and relationship of the unconscious state of existence. In Vedanta and Samkhya philosophy, it is known as the causal body.
This unconscious state can be experienced by the practice of kundalini yoga, laya yoga, pure pranayama and also kriya yoga. When a yoga aspirant practises these different yogic systems, then the whole consciousness, the whole personality is completely extinguished just as you blow out a candle, nothing remains of what you are. It is not a state of shoonya, void, or a state of completeness, it is a state of nothingness. That is the unconscious.
In vedic texts, the oldest books written by humanity, we use the words hiranya and garbha. Hiranya means ‘golden’ and garbha means ‘womb’. This unconscious mind, unconscious body or the causal body of the laya state of experience is like a golden womb. The shape and the form of this manifestation is geometrical. Therefore geometry defines the process of the universe.
I am not a student of physics but I can tell you that the whole universe, the whole creation is nothing but circles and triangles, not men, women or children! The creation is a science of mathematical numbers and geometrical figures.
The yantras in tantra are supposed to be very powerful. Take a yantra designed for yourself by an expert who knows the science, put it here, and it starts working positively and negatively. The people who have experienced the miracle of yantra, will not be able to explain the modus operandi of it. The ordinary yantra, and there are plenty of them, is a receptacle for and a transmitter of powerful energies.
The moment a yantra is placed near the unconscious body, they come into association, into communion with each other and start working. Therefore in the system of kriya yoga we have the yantras of each chakra. Mooladhara has the inverted triangle and anahata has two intersecting triangles. The inverted triangle is the symbol of Shakti, the straight triangle represents Shiva, and when they intersect or embrace each other, that is the union of Shiva and Shakti.
Therefore, the practitioner of kundalini yoga concentrates on the yantra. I am not talking about bija mantra, my subject is now only confined to yantra in relation to the awakening of the unconscious forces in man.
In order to awaken your great personality or higher personality which we call anandamaya kosha, the blissful sheath, you concentrate on each chakra by means of the yantra of each. The students of kundalini yoga should take care to learn, investigate and concentrate on the yantra, then go from one chakra to another, to the third, fourth, fifth, like this, in order to bring the consciousness from the material plane to a different plane where it is more powerful, stretched and expanded.
It is necessary that while you do this you must have a basis. Without a basis the consciousness cannot function. There are certainly very few people among us who can be aware of pure consciousness, who can be aware of pure mind. Most of us cannot think of mind without a thought. We cannot think of consciousness without a symbol, we cannot think of existence without any basis. Therefore, there must be some type of concrete symbolism.
In the context of kundalini yoga there are various forms, right from the bottom to the top. They are encased in the yantra. Within the form of a circle you have a crocodile, within the form of an inverted triangle you have an elephant. That is the symbol, the basis.
Remember again that the mind cannot be comprehended without a thought; we know the mind because we know the thought. If we want to know the mind only, it is not possible because it is formless, and the comprehensibility of something formless is an impossibility. Therefore, in kundalini yoga we have the symbolic representation of the forces of the unconscious in the form of yantra.
Yantras have an immediate effect on the unconscious body. As I told you yesterday, whatever you have experienced in your childhood is deeply embedded in the depth of your personality. Later when you grow this can become a problem, an ailment or an emotional crisis. It is not easy for a psychoanalyst to bring an individual back to his childhood and put him in touch with an experience which he had during his unconscious period. It is not possible for us to do this. So what do you have to do? You have to design something which will explode the unconscious quietly.
Many years ago, I used to wander as a mendicant from place to place. I was lean and thin. Once I was living in a village during a very scorching summer. After some time I developed a really high temperature, something like 106°F, or 107°F. Somebody took mercy on me and called a doctor. The village doctor gave me some medicine but it did not work. For two full days I was unconscious, nothing existed for me. After the third or fourth day, a very old man came to know that a swami who had come to his village was having a very high fever. He came and looked at me, went back and brought a small piece of copper. On the copper were inscribed only two petals and one circle, that is ajna chakra. He just hung it on my neck, and within half an hour the fever was finished. In the evening I left the village.
This simple but very significant example shows the influence of a yantra. This influence was not conscious; if it had been you could say this is a psychological process. However, it was not a process taking place via the mind but directly into the mind. The yantra does not work through the mind or through faith because you may not believe and still it will work. It is like a bullet, whether you believe in it or do not believe in it, it is still going to act upon you.
I am giving you my experience. When I was unconscious what I felt was that somebody was putting a big triangle on my neck and pulling me up and up and out.
This is not the experience of a solitary individual; it has been experienced by our ancestors and it is a part of our culture. What is that culture? To awaken the unconscious directly. The process of self-analysis, of psychoanalysis has its own merits; we are not trying to discredit it. But to alleviate the suffering of mankind and in order to mitigate the possibilities of further suffering it is very necessary that tantra has to come to our rescue.
During meditation, oh it is an experience of more than thirty years ago, when I had no idea of tantra. I was just nineteen when I entered the monastery of my guru, I had very little time when I joined Swamiji’s ashram; I was in my budding state, and I had to work as a plumber a labourer, a water carrier, chop the fire logs, cook the food, carry all kinds of things five or six miles. There were no cars, no Volkswagens, nothing like we have today. I used to carry everything in my hands.
Tired in the evening by nine or nine thirty I used to sit on the banks of the flowing Ganga in Rishikesh, surrounded by the glorious mountains of the valley. Since I was not yet a sannyasi, I was still a brahmachari, my mantra was Gayatri. It is the mantra for children, the mantra of intuition. So I used to recite Gayatri and while I was reciting it, I used to see peculiar geometrical figures. I always thought that these were coming up because I was so bad in mathematics. Maybe I was lost in unconsciousness and came face to face with the yantra, but ignorant that I was, I thought that they were the repressions of my mathematical phobia.
Later the geometrical figures gained terrifying momentum, sometimes I used to see the whole play of geometry. I asked many swamis, mahatmas and wise men including my guru Swami Sivananda about this and they gave me one simple answer, “It is your causal body, your unconscious body and your deeper self.” I said “Why do I not see my guru, why do I see these triangles, circles, hexagons and quadrangles?” They said, “That is the creation, the great prakriti.” Prakriti means the creation of the whole fantastic drama.
So coming to the point of conclusion, the yantras that you see are a blast of the unconscious. No artist, no painter, no poet can ever create that language of the triangle unless the unconscious is blasted completely through. Everything coming out from here, from the bottom, comes from the small golden egg, the causal body, the unconscious body, the anandamaya kosha, call it by any name you wish. Where there is no time, no space, no form and no name, where there is no I and no you, there are no numbers, it is just one homogeneity, no Scandinavians, no Indians, no French people, no man and no woman, just one homogenous consciousness. This mass of consciousness is a totality of existence, as one not as two.
Therefore, the yantra in tantra is a very powerful system of self-culture. It is a very powerful system for redeeming the diseases of the unconscious and also for the formation of our personality.
—14 April 1977, Lecture given in Stockholm, Sweden